While studying abroad, culture shock kicked in as soon as my plane landed and I entered a restroom searching for simple items like toilet seat liners and obvious soap dispensers. Immediately, my daughter and I noticed the differences between the way things were done and what we were used to at home. These differences included the way people dressed, spoke, behaved, teaching and learning styles, food – potentially all aspects of life. In the beginning, it was quite frustrating and disorienting as something simple like buying a bus ticket needed figuring out; can I buy it on the bus, or from a shop or kiosk? Do I have to validate it? Does it cover a single trip, or a set period of time? When my daughter and I first arrived in Spain, we experienced a vast array of emotions from intrigue and excitement, to a stimulated and curious response. However, as time progressed, I noticed that I started to reject the differences that I had encountered. Even though I was determined to leave behind my ethnocentric behavior in the states, I was conscious of how much I was comparing this new culture to home. By the end of the third week, my daughter and I noticed that our internal clock had already adjusted to the external clock of Spain. We began to cherish siestas and found ourselves heading outdoors at 8 p.m., instead of preparing for bed. The Differences in cultures were now being accepted and even cherished. I noticed that we both felt more relaxed and more confident as we became more familiar with situations and Spain’s way of life.
Fast forward three and a half months, and I am now feeling anxiety about returning to my own culture. Studying abroad demanded a number of lifestyle changes. The individuals that left California, are not the same individuals who left. I believe that the individuals that are preparing to return home, have been transformed intellectually and personally, after successfully functioning in a culture entirely different from our own. My daughter and I have developed new habits, values, and ideas. My four year old now request croissants and thinly sliced ham for breakfast instead of breakfast cereal. I enjoy taking a nap during midday, and waking up feeling refreshed. Most of the people here in Spain, commute either by walking, utilizing scooters, or even public transportation. In California, most of us access vehicles even if the commute is only a few blocks from our home. In my three and a half month stay here in Spain I feel healthier and my skin is more radiant. Before leaving the states, I was some what of a salt fanatic. I sprinkled salt on everything, even before tasting my food. However, since salt dispensers are rarely displayed on tables here in Spain, I really cannot remember the last time that I used salt.
I am now wondering how odd our presence will be to family, friends, and neighbors, and if they may find it difficult to comprehend and accept the changes that we have made. Will these individuals expect us to be the same person that left. I am also contemplating over finding a balance in order to fulfill old roles while breaking in new ones. This strain appears to be invoking a loss of identity, now directed towards situations and individuals that are familiar to me. No matter what happens, I will embrace the outcome without regrets, and cherish every moment of my study abroad experienceCathedral (Spain )
Triana Plaza (Spain )
Granada Spain (Alhambra )
Rome ( Colosseum )
Vatican City (The Vatican )
Stuttgart Germany ( Schlossplatz )